Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned a decision by the International Criminal Court to authorize an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Afghanistan by U.S. armed forces, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Taliban.
The US and the Taliban signed an agreement on February 29 to withdraw thousands of US troops, but Washington carried out an air strike on Taliban fighters on Wednesday.
"The ICC today stumbled into a sorry affirmation of every denunciation made by its harshest critics", he said.
The United States first sent armed forces into Afghanistan in 2001 in response to the September 11 attacks in New York City.
"The Appeals Chamber considers it appropriate to amend the appealed decision to the effect that the prosecutor is authorised to commence an investigation into alleged crimes committed on the territory of Afghanistan in the period since May 1st, 2003", he said.
FILE - International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, left, speaks with a colleague in The Hague, Netherlands, on July 8, 2019.
Thursday's hearing could clear the way for Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to open a full-blown investigation into alleged crimes by the Taliban, Afghan government forces and USA forces at secret detention centers.
"The United States is not a party to the ICC, and we will take all necessary measures to protect our citizens from this renegade, so-called court", he said.
The ruling at The Hague reverses a decision by the ICC previous year not to open an inquiry.
In what has become the United States' longest war, about 13,000 USA troops remain in Afghanistan. "The Afghan government says it will not agree to start the talks without a ceasefire", he says.
Mr Trump admitted that the security of the US-backed Afghan government was not guaranteed by the USA deal.
Tennessee Democrats Weathered The Storms To Vote For Joe Biden
However, Biden's big win in SC and the endorsements of two leading candidates could help him shore up the so-called moderate lane. Bernie Sanders won his home state of Vermont and Colorado, while Biden took Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama and Oklahoma.
The peace deal signed between the USA and the Taliban last week signaled the end of a decadeslong war in Afghanistan.
A USA forces spokesman confirmed the latest incident in southern Helmand province, hours after President Donald Trump spoke by phone with chief Taleban negotiator Mullah Baradar Akhund on Tuesday, the first known conversation between a U.S. leader and a top Taleban official.
There was no official US delegation at December's appeal hearing but President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, appeared on behalf of the European branch of the American Center for Law and Justice and told judges that USA position would not change.
The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) called the decision an "important step for justice in Afghanistan", while Amnesty International said the ICC reversed "a bad mistake" and chose to stand by the victims whom it said have been "shamefully ignored" for years.
Human rights groups welcomed Thursday's ruling.
"These are warriors. We've been there for 20 years", Trump said during a Fox News town hall in Scranton, Pa.
The agreement paves the way for the complete withdrawal of America's 13,000 troops as well as Nato's forces but is contingent on Taliban assurances not to allow Afghanistan to again become a haven for worldwide terrorists.
At the United Nations, where Pompeo will travel Friday, diplomats said that the United States has opened discussions on a Security Council resolution that would bring global weight to the February 29 deal.
And yet, the March 3-4 attacks -of the Taliban on the Afghan forces and US/ NATO forces on Taliban -leave the impression that the Doha peace accord has to go through the acid test of mutual trust-building among the respective parties. The group resumed offensive operations against Afghan security forces this week, ending a partial truce.
At a December hearing, the government of Afghanistan said it objected to the investigation and has set up a special unit to investigate war crimes.
There was no official US delegation at the hearing, but President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, appeared on behalf of the European branch of the American Center for Law and Justice and told judges that the USA position would not change.
Pretrial judges past year acknowledged that widespread crimes have been committed in Afghanistan, but rejected the investigation saying it wouldn't be in the interests of justice because the expected lack of co-operation meant convictions would ultimately be unlikely.